A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Objectivity in Childhood Games: Iran and the United States

By Rastegarpour, Ali | Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, July-December 2011 | Go to article overview

A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Objectivity in Childhood Games: Iran and the United States


Rastegarpour, Ali, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Byline: Ali. Rastegarpour

Games have been introduced as a means for studying cross-cultural differences and societies. This paper presents a case study in analogous games played by children in two different countries with two different cultures - Iran and the United States. Four examples are presented to demonstrate that games played by Iranian children are subject to less objectivity in their rules. Therefore, nonobjectivity may be a phenomenon that has roots in the society and the many differences between the two societies may very well be the results of this fundamental difference. If the presence of objectivity in childhood game rules could be, in actuality, indicative of objectivity in social and civil interactions in the everyday lives of the people, the direction of causality remains to be established. In other words, it remains unclear whether the games influence the culture or are influenced by the mandates of the society.

Introduction

While the objectivity and nonobjectivity of rules have been discussed and pondered on in many ways and from many aspects, there is reason to propose further implications for the subject of objectivity in sociological settings. The 'objective law' has already found its place on the cornerstone of the modern society, as Rand [sup][1] put it: 'That which cannot be formulated into an objective law, cannot be made the subject of legislation - not in a free country, not if we are to have a government of laws and not of men'. In another instance, Rand [sup][2] claims: 'An objective law protects a country's freedom; only a non-objective law can give a statist the chance he seeks: A chance to impose his arbitrary will'. Even for those who are not devoted followers of objectivist theory, such a hypothesis is by no means inconceivable; a thorough examination of the objective rules throughout various authoritative bodies will demonstrate to some extent the grounds of this claim. By this means, objectivity has become a main prerequisite for most regulatory processes.

What is interesting, however, is that a closer observation will provide us with a reason to believe that nonobjective rules maintain roots that delve deep into the culture of the people, rather than simply express a preference of a governing system. Even before laws are implemented and internal organizational regulations are written, the nonobjectivity of rules lies in plain sight within the body of the society itself.

Governing laws are yet only one aspect of objectivity. The mere realization of differentiating objective and nonobjective, or semi-objective, in the heart of a society can be the entire difference between developing and developed, or between traditional and modern.

Although the dichotomy of objectivity and nonobjectivity (or perhaps subjectivity) may be philosophically questionable, for the purpose of evaluating the hypothesis, I will refer to a 'hard science' definition of objectivity: A phenomenon for which observer agreement is maximal, or, in other words, observer variance is minimal. [sup][3] Therefore, a reasonable interobserver reliability could be considered here as acceptably objective.

This paper presents the differences in analogous games played by children in the United States and Iran in order to exemplify a profound fundamental difference between the two societies.

Case Report

Dodgeball vs Vasati

Dodgeball is a game that American children are quite familiar with and consists of two teams restricted to their own side of the court, trying to hit opponent team members with one or numerous balls. The winner is the team that eliminates all opponent team members either by hitting them with the ball or by making a successful 'catch' on an opponent throw. Once the ball hits the ground, it is considered 'dead': Neither will it eliminate players by hitting them nor can it be used to make a catch.

Of the same familiarity in Iran is the game of Vasati, which can be translated as 'in the middle'. …

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